Respecting The USS Arizona Memorial, Pearl Harbour, Oahu, Hawaii, USA


One of the historic destinations on the island of Oahu is Pearl Harbour. It was the home to the largest naval attack on American Forces in History, and is a solemn reminder of the perils of war. A visit allows travellers to take a boat over to the USS Arizona, which rests inside Pearl Harbour having sunk as a result of enemy bombing. Having never visited, I made sure to take time to appreciate this historic site of Remembrance.

This post is one chapter on our trip to Honolulu & Maui, Hawaii, United States of America. This trip was redeemed through Alaska Mileage Plan and Fairmont President’s Club. For more information on how this trip was booked, please see our trip introduction here. For other parts of the trip, please see this index.

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Activity: Respecting the USS Arizona Memorial, Pearl Harbour, Honolulu, Oahu, Hawaii, United States of America

Today’s activity was a two part visit to the USS Arizona Memorial and the USS Missouri Battleship.

During our stay at the Moana Surfrider by Westin in lovely Honolulu, Hawaii, I had wanted to visit Pearl Harbour for a little American History. Pearl Harbour is the site of Japanese Attacks on the United States of America which drew the Americans into World World II. Since I had never visited Honolulu before, it was always a place that had escaped my ability to visit.

Booking and Getting There:

Pearl Harbour is located almost adjacent to the Honolulu International Airport and the joint Hickan Air Force Base. It was located about thirty minutes normal driving from Waikiki Beach where most visitors stay.

I booked the Pearl Harbour tour through Eno Tours. Their tour offered a combination visit to the USS Arizona Memorial and the US Missouri Battleship. I just found them on the internet and they seemed like the most straight forward company. MrsWT73, being ever the wiser about my visits to museums and monuments, decided to sleep in at the Moana Surfrider, and lounge on the beach instead of an early wake up for tour through history.

My tour was confirmed shortly after it was purchased on line. I ended up opting for the 6 AM early tour, which promised a return to the hotel by 1 PM.

Visiting Pearl Harbour:

Landing at the Welcome Centre

After being collected and a 30 minute drive, we arrived at the Pearl Harbour visitor center. I was pretty much in a tour of one person, so I was free to walk around on my own. I was able to get my first look at Pearl Harbour, which was a low harbour without many high or hilly features. The sun was just rising at around this time, leading to a very peaceful and tranquil setting. In the distance from the welcome center, one could see the USS Missouri and the USS Arizona Memorial.

Sun Rise at Pearl Harbour
First Light overlooking Pearl Harbour
First Light Overlooking Pearl Harbour

Around the Pearl Harbour welcome area were several historical items related to Pearl Harbour, including an interesting museum that displayed the elements of the attack.

Anchor from the USS Arizona Battleship
US and Japan Military Statistics at the start of World War II
Map of the Japanese Expansion
Cross Roads of the Pacific

Visiting the USS Memorial

At a specified and designated boarding time, I took the US Navy operated boat over to the USS Arizona Memorial. It is situated in the middle of the waters of Pearl Harbour and is only accessible by boat. Reflecting back, it’s probably the only memorial that I can recall that requires access through water.

The structure straddles the frame of the USS Arizona battleship that sunk during the attack on Pearl Harbour.

The USS Arizona Memorial
The USS Arizona Memorial

We were let off onto the USS Arizona Memorial. Once on board the memorial, it was a bit of a serene place offset by masses of people circulating through the site. We were left with about 15 minutes to reflect on the horrors of this event. It was hardly enough time, but after 15 minutes, another batch of visitors would arrive, continuing the cycle.

The USS Memorial
Views of the Shell of the USS Arizona

The Memorial Wall:

There was also a memorial wall that recognized all of the enlisted US Navy personnel that passed away on the attack on Pearl Harbour.

An Astounding Number of Fatalities
The List of those KIA at Pearl Harbour

There was also a surprising area where survivors of the USS Arizona were interred along with their ship mates. They were cremated and placed in watertight urns and sent down to the ship with US divers.

Those that had returned to Pearl Harbour as their final resting place

Looking closely at the waters surrounding the ship, you could also see the “Tears of the Arizona”- small droplets of oil that continue to leak into the harbour, staining the waters.

The Tears of Arizona
Water Marks on the Tears of Arizona
Oil Marks Reflecting on the Water

Before I left, there were some more general views from the USS Arizona memorial of the harbour around and towards the USS Missouri.

Views from the Memorial Platform
Overlooking the USS Missouri Anchored in the Distance
Departing the USS Arizona Memorial
Departing the USS Arizona

My Thoughts on the USS Arizona Memorial:

The USS Arizona Memorial is a poignant reminder of the sacrifices of war. Being out on the water, it’s situated over top of the sunken USS Arizona. Although it was a bit of a shuffle to get through with a constant turn over of visitors, it’s an interesting monument to history and perhaps the only monument I’ve ever been to that has had to be accessed by boat.

If you’ve paid your respects at the USS Arizona Memorial, did you find it to be a solemn experience?

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